Of social media, exploding churches and imploding airlines

In Hawaii, Aloha can mean both hello and good bye, but for Aloha Airlines recently, it meant only bankruptcy. Likewise for ATA, Skybus, Skyway, and most recently Frontier. For those holding useless tickets, the news spelled delays, hassles and lost money. Naturally, the public outcry was covered by television news and various bloggers. But for my news, I didn’t have to go farther than Twitter. Using keyword search, I could tune into the griping and gnashing of teeth in real time. Twitter gave me “News I can use,” and I didn’t even have to look at a newscaster haircut.

Twitter also reported something that local news simply cannot: Are any of my friends directly affected? The answer was No, to the airline implosions, but two Twittering friends were delayed by the American Airlines wiring harness problems.

Map showing church

Another colleague inadvertently acted as Breaking News reporter, when he reassured his Twitter audience that his office is a safe distance from the “exploded church.” Here is what raster reported on the day that a hundred-year-old church in his city blew up due to a leaking gas line:

don’t worry about us, we are not that close to the church that exploded: map

As you can see from the map he supplied, raster did a great job of showing why he was unharmed, but also, what had just happened. That night, when I watched the local news, I was already well aware of what happened.

What Twitter will evolve into is anyone’s guess. But where it is right now is a place I could never have imagined: Squarely between me and local journalism.